Intelligence committee kept surveillance info secret from congress before critical votes

Dutch Ruppersberger

Above: Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.

Image Credit: markn3tel/Flickr
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It looks like the House Intelligence Committee kept information secret about two intelligence collection documents that were released in 2011 to all members of congress.

President Barack Obama recently declassified three documents pertaining to U.S. government surveillance. One of these documents was a letter to the Select Committee on Intelligence with two attachments explaining Section 215 of the Patriot Act and Section 402 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Both of these were to be shared with congress, as representatives elected in 2010 would need to be informed before voting on both of these acts.

According to Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), they were not:

Less than two weeks ago, the Obama administration released previously classified documents regarding ‪NSA‬’s bulk collection programs and indicated that two of these documents had been made available to all Members of Congress prior to the vote on reauthorization of the Patriot Act. I can now confirm that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence did NOT, in fact, make the 2011 document available to Representatives in Congress, meaning that the large class of Representatives elected in 2010 did not receive either of the now declassified documents detailing these programs.

He posted a picture of this letter to Facebook with a bold red banner reading, “Not made available to representatives in Congress.”

We have reached out the House Intelligence Committee and will update upon hearing back.

The letter goes on to confirm that the intelligence community made a similar disclosure to congress in 2009, which was recently declassified at the same time as this letter. It would have been very important for Congress to see this letter dated February 2011, as Congress was set to vote on extending the Patriot Act in May 2011, and FISA in December.

hat tip The Verge